TUPELO • As Tupelo toddlers painted fairytale happy endings Monday morning at Lawndale Elementary, the children had a week of beanstalks leading up to shaving cream clouds, straw and balloon Cinderella pumpkins and Peter Pan hooks to construct for the local summer camp.

The city’s youngest students were treated to the district’s first ever Pre-K summer camp this week, which partnered art and reading activities for the group of students mostly four through six years old.

As Lee Childress, superintendent of district of innovation Corinth School District, told Mississippi Public Broadcasting last month, having students take periodic breaks throughout the school year as opposed to a long summer off from school may help prevent the “summer slide” effect.

Tupelo Public School District has upped its own offerings of academic summer learning opportunities in June with a series of week-long summer camps aimed at keeping students’ minds stimulated and engaged over the long Mississippi summer.

Summer Opportunity camp coordinator Teresa Gregory said there has been a push in recent years to include the district’s youngest students in summer activities and the program’s inclusion of young students will hopefully continue next summer.

“We have done camps for students that have finished kindergarten, but now that Pre-K has gotten so big, we wanted to include them, and a lot of parents were asking for a program for students who attended ECEC and then wanted to attend a summer camp,” Gregory said referring to King Early Childhood Education Center, the pre-kindergarten school for TPSD.

The “Happily Ever After” summer camp was designed by Joyner special education instructor Cathryn Richey for the group of 16 students who have completed a preschool program.

“I used to teach kindergarten and now I work in special education, in inclusion, and I miss that part because second-graders don’t always do a lot of fairytale stuff, so I wanted to go back and do something like this,” Richey said.

For fairytales like Jack and the Beanstalk, students will build Jack’s house in the clouds, make magic beans and build a parachute for Jack to come down from the clouds using coffee filters and string.

For the Three Little Pigs, the students will build three little houses out of different materials. For Peter Pan, the students will use chalk tracings to learn about shadow art and also create Captain Hook’s signature arm attachment using plastic cups and aluminum foil.

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